Annual Report 2010–2011

Annex C

Lobbying Act

Purpose and Description

The Lobbying Act (the Act) provides for the public registration of individuals who are paid to communicate with public office holders (POHs) with regard to certain matters as described in the legislation. Public office holders are defined in the Act as virtually all persons occupying an elected or appointed position in the Government of Canada, including members of the House of Commons and the Senate and their staff, as well as officers and employees of federal departments and agencies, members of the Canadian Forces and members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The preamble to the Act sets out four basic principles pertaining to the registration of lobbyists:

  • Free and open access to government is an important matter of public interest.
  • Lobbying public office holders is a legitimate activity.
  • It is desirable that public office holders and the public be able to know who is engaged in lobbying activities.
  • A system for the registration of paid lobbyists should not impede free and open access to government.

Individuals must be registered if they lobby, i.e., if they communicate with federal POHs, for payment, whether formally or informally, with regard to:

  • the making, developing or amending of federal legislative proposals, bills or resolutions, regulations, policies or programs;
  • the awarding of federal grants, contributions or other financial benefits; and
  • in the case of consultant lobbyists, the awarding of a federal government contract and arranging a meeting between their client and a POH.

The Lobbying Act provides for the following three categories of lobbyists:

Consultant Lobbyists

Consultant lobbyists are individuals who are paid to lobby on behalf of a client. Consultant lobbyists may be government relations consultants, lawyers, accountants or other professional advisors who provide lobbying services for their clients. They must file a registration for each individual undertaking (i.e., for each mandate from a client).

In-house Lobbyists (Corporations)

In-house lobbyists (corporations) are employees of corporations that conduct commercial activities for financial gain and who lobby as a significant part of their duties. These individuals are usually full-time employees who devote a significant part of their duties to public affairs or government relations work. As the registrant, the most senior paid officer must register the corporation if the total lobbying activity of all employees represents a significant part of the duties of one equivalent full-time employee. The registration must include the names of all senior officers who engage in any lobbying activity, as well as the name of any employee (senior officer or otherwise) who individually devotes a significant part of his or her duties to lobbying activities.

In-house Lobbyists (Organizations)

In-house lobbyists (organizations) are employees of non-profit organizations, such as associations, charities and foundations, including non-profit corporations. As the registrant, the most senior paid officer of such an organization must register the names of all employees engaged in lobbying activities, if the total lobbying activity of all such employees represents a significant part of the duties of one equivalent full-time employee.

Disclosure Requirements

All three categories of lobbyists are required to disclose certain information within time limits specified in the Act. This information includes:

  • names of their clients, or corporate or organizational employers;
  • names of the parent or subsidiary companies that would benefit from the lobbying activity;
  • organizational members of coalition groups;
  • specific subject matters of lobbying;
  • names of the federal departments or agencies contacted;
  • sources and amounts of any public funding received; and
  • communication techniques used, such as meetings, telephone calls or grass-roots lobbying.

Although their reporting requirements differ slightly, corporations and organizations must also provide general descriptions of their business or activities.

Regulations

The Lobbying Act authorizes the Governor in Council to make regulations respecting the submission of returns and other registration requirements of the Act, and in relation to various aspects of the lobbyists' registration regime.

The Lobbyists Registration Regulations set the form and manner in which lobbyists must file returns required by the Act. Returns disclose information regarding the lobbying activities of registrants. The Regulations also set out additional information to be disclosed in returns, beyond what is required by the Act. They set the timeframes to respond to a request by the Commissioner for correction or clarification of information submitted in returns. The Regulations also describe the type of communication that will trigger monthly returns. The form and manner of registration set out in the Lobbyists Registration Regulations are reflected in the Lobbyists Registration System interface that is provided to users of the system.

The Act defines designated public office holders to include ministers, ministers of state and ministerial staff, deputy heads, associate deputy heads and assistant deputy ministers and those of comparable ranks throughout the public service. The Designated Public Office Holder Regulations further designate various positions in the Canadian Forces and the Privy Council Office, as well as the Comptroller General of Canada, with the result that the persons occupying those positions are included as "designated public office holders" under the Lobbying Act. The Regulations came into force on July 2, 2008 and further designated the following 11 positions or classes of positions:

  • Chief of the Defence Staff;
  • Vice Chief of the Defence Staff;
  • Chief of Maritime Staff;
  • Chief of Land Staff;
  • Chief of Air Staff;
  • Chief of Military Personnel;
  • Judge Advocate General;
  • any position of Senior Advisor in the Privy Council to which the office holder is appointed by the Governor in Council;
  • Deputy Minister (Intergovernmental Affairs) Privy Council Office;
  • Comptroller General of Canada; and any position to which the Office holder is appointed pursuant to paragraphs 127.1(1) (a) or (b) of the Public Service Employment Act.

On September 20, 2010, the Regulations were amended to add three more classes of positions to the category of designated public office holder:

  • the position of Member of the House of Commons;
  • the position of Member of the Senate; and
  • any position on the staff of the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons or on the staff of the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, that is occupied by a person appointed pursuant to subsection 128(1) of the Public Service Employment Act.